Craigslist Head Office

Rules Of craigslist: For Sellers

Craigslist-AdvisoryYou saw part 1 of our series (as a buyer) and now you want to sell your stuff on Craigslist with confidence. You do, but you’re worried about the stories you’ve heard regarding fake electronics, bad buyers and shady people. In honor of the disclaimer craigslist attaches to every mail that comes in, I decided to create a more exhaustive list of rules to follow when buying and selling there. Using these rules as a guide, you’ll be more comfortable in the jungle that is Craigslist.

Briefly: With this list of Dos and Don’ts for the Craigslist seller, you’ll be able to sell online with more confidence. Part two of a two part series.

Don’t sell without doing research – The single most valuable thing you can do before selling your item on Craigslist, is research. Before you set a price, search your local Craigslist and find similar items to get an idea of the average market price. Your item is not going to sell for much more than market price. Before meeting the person, search Google for more about that person. Before selling an item, understand it well (and how many defects it has). Before you offer an item, make sure you know if it is in warranty, locked or otherwise has a history you’ll need to disclose. Never meet with a person selling an item if you don’t know what you’re selling!

Don’t sell if you’re in a rush – this is one of the harder lessons to learn on Craigslist. When you are in a  rush to sell something, you are much more likely to settle for a much lower price than you should. Take your time and don’t accept or offers or trades for stuff you don’t need. Walk away if the terms aren’t right.

Don’t negotiate badly – Selling in good faith requires that you be willing to offer a fair lower price and also consider thoughts and questions from the buyer. Always intend to negotiate a fair price and accommodate the buyer as much as possible.

Do know the lowest price you’ll sell for – When you sell on Craigslist, you will be offered all sorts of prices. Some of them will be good, some of them will be horribly insulting. Make sure when you place an ad, you know how much leeway you’re willing to give for the sale.

Do know what a scam looks like – For the most popular things you sell, you’re going to get allot of scam email. Learn to spot these and immediately delete them. While the email changes often, the same thing is always said. They always want you to ship and offer to pay much more than the selling price for the shipping. Mentions of things like guarantee, express mail and or PayPal are also big red flags.

The scammer

Don’t ship or use paypal/credit card/electronic for payments – Increasingly related to the scams you’ll come across, never offer to ship items. Sell everything locally for Cash.

Don’t get your hopes up  – If a sale is imminent and there are allot of back and forth messages or texts – don’t pin the sale on this person. Be willing to walk away at any point if this person offers something unreasonable. Don’t ever compromise on the lowest price you’ll sell for because of a story provided by a buyer. Common stories are having to pay for fixing an item, needing to pay for travel, a friend who says something that should make you sell cheaper. Many will want something for nothing, so be wary of this and don’t get your hopes up.

Stories are common, don’t compromise

Don’t post if you aren’t ready to sell now – I have encountered many sellers who seem not capable of selling an item right away. When you post the item on Craigslist, it should be ready to sell now, and you should be capable of meeting right away. This means you should have the item cleared of data, the packaging and item in the same location and the ability to meet quickly. If you are just planning to test the waters with interest in an item, I would suggest that you post it, but not reply to any of the eventual queries that come in.

Don’t post without pictures – For your ad to to be exposed to the most possible people, never post it without a picture. You will never sell a physical item and not be able to take pictures of it. A general rule it to post at least three pictures: One of the main item itself, one of the packaging and one with all of the items (with extras) that you intend to include with your sale. Pictures will help you sell your item much faster and be noticed by more buyers. Also, don’t ever use “Stock” photos off the Internet – take pictures of the actual item.

Do renew ad at the right time – If the ad you’ve posted on Craigslist is still online for more than 5-7 days, Craigslist offers you a way to “Renew” it and place it back at the top of your local listings. Be smart about when you do this: Don’t renew late at night, do it when most people are looking at Craigslist in the morning or afternoon. Your ad will be seen by more people in the beginning and possibly lead to a sale.

Don’t put personal email or phone numbers in ad – Along the lines of rushing to sell and offering too much personal information. It is never a good idea to place your phone numbers, account numbers, serial numbers or any other personally identifiable information in a post. If you sell on Craigslist and don’t have access to an email address, sign up with a free mail service and make sure you do. Let Craigslist do what it does best and protect your privacy.

Phone number? Bad idea.

Don’t waste time on people that won’t come to you – Selling locally means buyers have to meet you, wherever you are. While you always want to be as flexible as you can, you should never have to convince or persuade a buyer to come to you. If you find yourself doing it – stop and move on.

Would you like to see some examples of poorly written ads? Of course you would! Here’s a PDF file of three ads I found on Craigslist. Some of these errors are massive (like providing the buyer no way to contact you).

This concludes our two part series about Buying and Selling on Craigslist. The information here is not just limited to Craigslist either, use this advice when selling anywhere online. Share your own advice in the comments!